Calzaghe-Jones, And Everything That’s Wrong With Boxing

by Jason Peck - You did not see a bout between two elite contenders in their prime. You did not see a fight that was competitive, that was ever supposed to be competitive, that no reasonable person could ever expect to be competitive. You did not see a fight that matters to anything other than the retirement checks of Joe Calzaghe and Roy Jones Jr..

You saw two aging fighters humping former glory for one last payday. You saw a fighter who’s hitting his stride against a fighter that was way past his, and everybody knew it. You saw name recognition once again trumping talent. You saw the attention taken away from a fight that could have really made a difference in the sport. You saw the promoters hyping a fight that didn’t matter. Then you say the fans and the “experts” eating the hype with gusto.

Calzaghe-Jones symbolizes everything I find wrong with boxing. The fights that can really make a difference seldom get attention. The fights that don’t are the ones that get a public relations budget capable of financing real exciting, meaningful matches.

My mind continuously returns to the great fights of recent years, such as Corrales-Castillo and Vasquez-Marquez. Those two bouts had all the factors that Calzaghe-Jones lacked: warriors who were in their respective primes, who were hungry for glory. More importantly, those fights promised a lasting impact on the sport. The winners of all those matches intended to stay competitive, and influence the sport years from now. By contrast, both Calzaghe and Jones will likely retire.

Roy Jones was a non-contender. Everybody knew that. He hadn’t been the same since he got knocked out by Antonio Tarver four years ago, and the three victories he fought against third-stringers proved nothing. But when Calzaghe announced he would fight him, many people attached an invincible aura to Jones that had long since faded.

Lost in all the discussions is the fact that both fighters should be admonished for not taking the fight years ago when it could have really mattered. But back then Jones was too frightened of smudging his sterling record, and Calzaghe was too wishy-washy to take a fight that mattered.

Prior to fighting Jeff Lacy, Calzaghe’s career resembled Zsolt Erdei, whose choice of opponents is definitely safety first. But no one calls Erdei one of the best in the world. Likewise, Jones’ super middleweight career was spent avoiding challenging opponents like Nigel Benn, Gerald McClellan and Chris Eubank.

What about the Chad Dawsons of the world, the up-and-coming light heavies who will be left to rule the sport after these two retire? Thanks to the Ring Magazine belt and media circus bouts like this, the symbolic changing of the guard never comes.

This is the sport that’s supposed to be immune from this kind of hyping. In mixed martial arts, the only thing the top fighter has to do is look good on YouTube. In boxing, the best fighter is supposed to get it by fighting the best.

Ah what’s the point? With this fight already over, the boxing community can turn its attention to other unimportant bouts, like Oscar De La Hoya’s welterweight bout against a former flyweight. And no one ever learns.

Article posted on 09.11.2008

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